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No Student Left Behind: Universities Partner With Pargo To Reach Under-digitalised Students

South Africa’s top universities, including The University of Cape Town (UCT), The University of the Free State (UFS) and Rhodes University, have partnered with Pargo to distribute essential study materials to under-digitalised students around the country. By utilising Pargo’s nationwide network of over 2,500 Pickup Points, universities are enabling all students’ participation in E-learning.

The ongoing COVID crisis is affecting us all in profound ways and the Education sector is no different. With 1st-year dropout rates increasing to 68% since the start of lockdown, tertiary institutions have had to adopt E-learning to ensure that their students get the education they deserve. However, the hurdles some South African students face in getting the resources required for remote learning created a unique logistical challenge for universities to solve.

The reality is that many South African students live in remote areas without home delivery addresses and they have limited access to technology, making the shift to digital learning difficult. This problem of access is all too familiar for Pargo, South Africa’s Leading Smart Logistics Platform, as it is precisely this frustration that ultimately led to the creation of their vast network of pickup points.

“With universities switching to E-learning, we realised our growing network of pickup points could be used to deliver study materials to students living in hard to reach areas. In partnership with several of South Africa’s top tertiary institutions, it became our mission to ensure that all students in the country – and even those in neighbouring countries – could finish the academic year.”, says Lars Veul, CEO and co-founder of Pargo.

UCT and Rhodes University were the first two universities to partner with Pargo to get their students equipped for E-learning followed by UFS, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Tshwane University of Technology.

“It is common course that students went through challenges of access to gadgets, network instability and data shortages during the switch to Emergency Remote Learning. […] The risk of being judged on not accessing and using technology, then on capability and substance, seemed quite real for many students and it weighed heavily on their spirits.”, says Professor Pearl Sithole, Vice-Principal: Academic and Research, QwaQwa Campus, University of the Free State.

“It is important to understand our appreciation of a company such as Pargo for being ready to respond to this isolation and emotional strain, by offering an infrastructure of reach to the neediest and yet capable students.”

The response from students has been overwhelmingly positive as many rely on Pargo’s Pickup Points for the collection and return of assignments, hard copies of coursework, stationery, cameras, USBs, tablets and laptops. The convenient location of the pickup points, found at popular retail stores like Clicks, Spar, Caltex, has been highlighted by students as key to their successful E-learning transition.

Bachelor of Education student from UFS, Kedibone has visual impairment, but thanks to Pargo she now has access to printed material, a medium she is much more comfortable with. Similarly, Lucky from the Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences has expressed his gratitude to Pargo for allowing him to continue studies in the two modules he almost had to give up on due to a lack of resources.

With Pargo’s tailored distribution solution for the education sector, universities can send students study materials to any Pargo Pickup Point, which students can then collect at a time that suits them best. To return their assignments, universities simply send them empty flybags with preprinted waybills, which students can then return to a pickup point once completed. Both students and university staff receive thorough updates on the status of the parcels on route for delivery and returns due to Pargo’s innovative live-tracking technology.

Through technological innovation, Pargo is bridging the logistical gap between institutions and students and, in some cases, even borders. This was the case for 30 UCT students based in Lesotho. Ensuring no student gets left behind, Pargo swiftly arranged for their study parcels to be delivered to Ladybrand, 15km from the border, and then had an agent take it over for collection.

“It is times like these that remind us of our core mission at Pargo, which is creating access for everyone in Africa. From the furthest reaches of rural South Africa to the densely populated urban centres, we aim to solve the challenges of last-mile delivery.”, says Lars Veul, CEO and co-founder of Pargo.

With the end of the academic year approaching, universities are also concerned about the emotional well-being of students. To ensure that learners get their full student experience, Pargo will assist with the distribution of end-of-year essentials such as graduation certificates and class memorabilia, like hoodies and jackets, to re-enforce connections between students and their faculties.

Pargo’s smart logistics platform is available to all education providers, including schools, universities, distance learning institutions and Technikons. For more information drop us a message or contact Pargo or phone 021 447 3636.